Letters, Thursday, October 10, 2013

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Things no better for ordinary people

IN his letter (October 3), Terence Docherty claims that things are getting better. Who for, I wonder?

 If you are an employer who makes a living out of exploiting a vulnerable workforce, then this is certainly the Government for you.

 This is the Government of the zero-hour contract. The Government that wants to bring in regional pay for the public sector so that their private sector chums can compete in a race to the bottom.

 Mr Docherty seems very fond of statistics, so I am sure he will be interested in the recent Financial Times data which shows that UK living standards have dropped to their lowest in a decade after average real incomes have again fallen by three per cent.

 The figures also show that there has been a huge increase in in-work poverty, largely caused by employers paying sub-standard wages. And the latest Oxfam statistics show that the number of people in poverty has risen by one million.

 Maybe Mr Docherty is referring to the 13,000 millionaires who have recently received a £100,000 tax cut. It certainly can’t be those people forced to leave their homes as a result of the bedroom tax, or the thousands of extra people who have turned to food banks since the recent welfare reforms (up 200,000 on last year).

 Perhaps, Mr Docherty is referring to those private contractors, who are currently benefiting from the sell-off of the National Health Service. It certainly can’t be the 21,000 NHS staff axed in the last three months or the patients going without care unless they can pay.

 Or just maybe he is referring to the energy companies, who under this Government will be free to charge whatever prices they see fit and continue to rack up massive profits.

 It certainly isn’t the quarter of people, according to the Daily Telegraph no less, who are currently struggling to pay their energy bills. Oh yes, Mr Docherty, things are definitely looking up – but for who?

R Scott

A daft decision

WHAT a crazy decision it was to award Qatar the World Cup Finals.

 I’ve just heard the latest news from FIFA in Zurich, where Sepp Blatter announced Greenland will host the 2066 World Cup.

 Greenland’s King Nogbad was over the moon and said it’s about time the Arctic region staged the Finals. Their coach Thor Nogsson admitted it’s hard putting together an international team from nine Eskimos, a seal and a polar bear in goal. But the seal does score a lot of goals with his nose.

 Well, why not? If FIFA is daft enough to hold the World Cup in the Arabian desert, why not the land of icebergs, igloos and husky dogs? As usual, we in England will grumble and moan about it, but Blatter will just tell us to stay at home and play cricket.

 Mind you, if global warming continues, Greenland won’t be there in 2066. It will slide majestically into the sea, then all you residents of Seaburn will have swimming pools in your living rooms.

Paul Manning,

Washington

Dreading winter

I AM old, disabled and I have had surgery for cancer.

 It now takes me quite a long time to get ready every morning. I mention this because I am more susceptible to the cold now. In fact, the coming winter fills me with dread.

 My bathroom has single glazed, draughty windows. The large opening window has a gap in which you can put five layers of the Echo, close the window, then pull the paper out, while the window remains closed.

 You can imagine how much cold air this allows into the bathroom, the severity depending on the direction of the wind.

 Last winter, I had several visits from representatives of Gentoo (the landlord) in relation to this problem.

 The first visit was with the help of Macmillan Cancer Support and resulted in a more efficient radiator being fitted, for which I am very appreciative.

 The authorities, while allowing the energy companies to make millions in profits, extol us to have our lofts and walls insulated, to help with our energy bills.

 None of the bedrooms or sitting-room in my home have double glazed windows. I guess, as much heat escapes through the casements and around where the windows open, as through the single glazing.

 None of us can afford to pay for wasted heat in the present economic climate.

 Here’s hoping for a mild winter!

Name and address supplied

Change needed

THE letter describing me, and a few million investors in public utilities, as naive or greedy (September 30) almost had a point, but it was not about whether investors were naive or greedy.

 None of the first private investors in public utilities did so out of greed, indeed many saw it as an opportunity to be part of a cooperative, to have a stake in the nation’s services – do our bit, as it were.

 As I recall, personal allocations averaged less than £500 per person, so greed certainly was not our motive.

 As for us being naive, perhaps we were, but as nationalised entities, our public utilities were seen to be wasteful, failing to deliver satisfactory services and were generally believed to be unsustainable. The popular view, outside of the trade unions, was that change would lead to an improvement.

 Who could have predicted that managers and clerks in the various utilities, when privatised, would become millionaires overnight and that they would be allowed, or indeed have the gall, to create a situation where for instance, Sam Laidlaw, chief executive of Centrica, originally British Gas, could pocket a £1.4million a year salary.

 Your author’s near miss was that by privatisation of public utilities, the successive governments of Thatcher and Major created massive job losses.

 Not so. It was the demise of the coal mines and the shipyards, which took place on their watch, that created the horrendous unemployment of those years.

 Neither trade unions nor governments would back down, and we all paid the price for bad leadership on both sides.

 Sunderland, at one time the biggest shipbuilder in the world, was dealt a blow by the intransigence of these two factions, from which it will never properly recover.

 By privatising Royal Mail or financing HS2, to mention another folly, we are building platforms for more budding Sam Laidlaws, who are surely the greedy ones.

Denis Gillon

Search for Marleys

I AM searching for relatives of my grandfather George Menzies Marley, who died in 1922.

 His brothers were Robert, Richard and Joseph and his sisters were Margaret, Ethel, Lily and Eveline. His parents were Joseph and Ellen Marley.

 Joseph came from Trimdon Grange and his wife Ellen, nee Menzies, from Quarrington Hill.

 Joseph was a policeman and then an auctioneer. My grandfather and his brother had a cab and carriage business.

 In 1891 the family were living in Alice Street, and Robert Marley was a postman.

 I do not have a photograph of my grandfather and would be delighted if anyone has any information about the Marley family.

Judith Wells,

0191 529 2150

Thanks for purse

MANY thanks to the person who handed in my purse, when I left it at Marks & Spencer on Friday, September 27.

M Henry,

Seaham